Vatican claims on rights of children ‘downright wrong’, blasts Mary McAleese


Former President Mary McAleese has criticised the Vatican and said its stance on children is not acceptable.

The 66-year-old said it was “downright wrong” of it to tell the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child it did not promote beating children, insisting, “the Holy See has a long tradition of supporting corporal punishment”.

Professor McAleese, who is completing a doctorate in Catholic Church law at a university in Rome, said it was misleading of the Vatican in 2013 to tell the CRC the terms “punishment” or “corporal punishment” were not used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

She made the claims on Tuesday while speaking at Dublin’s Royal Irish Academy. She said: “The Holy See and the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a once-promising journey now going backwards?

“It governs the faith lives of 17% of the entire world population – that is, 1.25 billion Catholics, of whom well over 300 million are children aged under 18.

“It is the biggest non-governmental provider of educational and welfare services to children in the world operating more than 200,000 schools across five continents catering for some 60 million children a majority of whom, according to the Holy See, do not profess the Catholic faith.”

Ms McAleese also hit out the Church over its use of the term “illegitimate” to describe children born outside of wedlock, adding: “Canon law does not acknowledge the equality of legitimate and illegitimate children.”

The former President then addressed how the Vatican
told the monitoring committee’s second review it was only obliged to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child within Vatican City.

She added: “A question the Holy See must answer is why it believes it can credibly disseminate to the world at large the principles of a treaty it has ratified but refuses to implement within its own jurisdiction, particularly when that jurisdiction operates a body of law and principles which directly impact the lives and rights of over 300 million children.”

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